ASTRA Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health

Jan 27 2015

The ‘Global Strategy meeting between UNFPA and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) on ICPD beyond 2014 and Post-2015’ has been convened by UNFPA from 23-25 January 2015 in Istanbul, Turkey. The meeting objective was to strategize on how CSOs and UNFPA can partner to ensure that the outcomes of the ICPD Beyond 2014 review process are taken forward and integrated into the Post-2015 agenda, including through a responsive monitoring and evaluation framework.  The working groups of CSOs from different regions have given a great input to strengthen the SRHR issues in the final document. The final report summarizing the CSOs working groups’ results will be finalized soon.

ASTRA representative attended the meeting, participated actively in the discussions and facilitated one of the sessions during the conference.

Jan 19 2015

Early January the European Commission has decided that the emergency contraceptive with ulipristal acetate will be sold over-the-counter across the European Union. The EC will be available in pharmacy without the prescription in some European countries from February, with a full launch program taking place across the EU in the rest of the year.

Thanks to this decision emergency contraception (at least the new type with ulipristal acetate) will be available over-the-counter in Poland, Polish Health ministry said on 14 January. ASTRA member organization, Federation for Women and Family Planning has been advocating for better access to modern contraceptives for many years and people are supporting these claims. The Federation has launched the petition demanding that the government respects the EC decision on emergency contraceptives, which was supported by over 10000 people in three days. Also, the Federation wrote a letter to the Minister of Health urging him to make sure the administrative procedures are not delayed and that Polish women get access to the pill OTC as soon as possible On 23 January government representative said that the pill will be sold over-the-counter to all people including teens aged over 15 (this is the age of consent in Poland). 

You can still sign this petition here. We need public support in order to push for a prompt introduction of these new regulations as, considering the government's conservative views, delays can be expected.

Source: Federation for Women and Family Planning

Jan 14 2015

Polish ASTRA Network member, Federation for Women and Family Planning has launched the petition to Polish Ministry of Health demanding that Polish Ministry of Health implements European Commission recommendations that emergency contraception should be sold over the counter.

The English version of the petition follows along with the link:

We demand emergency contraception without prescription in Poland

Anna needed emergency contraception. She and her partner used a condom but it failed. She knew that in Poland she needs to obtain a prescription for pills. Her doctor was on vacation so she went to another clinic. There a receptionist told her in a loud voice that no doctor would prescribe her “that” and dismissed her saying there are no available appointments. In the second public clinic a doctor told her that he would not give the prescription. He did not provide any medical reasons for that, he just said “I don’t give a shit”. He managed to judge Anna's personal choices in the meantime. When he learned she had no children he said "it's high time" and also asked questions about her financial situation. Anna cried when she left his office. Finally she got the prescription from another doctor after a 16-hour journey around the city. She had to pay for a private appointment.

There are hundreds of women like Anna in Poland every year. Doctors refuse to issue prescriptions, insult and judge patients, preach of morality and conscientious objection or refer patients to their private practice to make extra money on the side. Emergency contraception is not linked to any serious risks for health and life and more than 20 EU countries are already selling it over-the-counter. European Commission decided recently that also second generation emergency pills ought to be sold directly in pharmacies.

Representative of the Polish Health Ministry has stated that Poland would not apply EU recommendations. He believes that “getting a prescription is not that big an obstacle". Letters and information women have shared with organizations and media show quite the contrary. When you live in a small town or in the country it is usually impossible to get a doctor’s appointment quickly – waiting lists are long and you need to take a long trip to the clinic. When you're in a difficult situation, you won’t be able to afford and expensive private appointment and buying unsubsidized contraceptives which cost 15-30 EUR. When you are a teenager a doctor may refuse to give you prescription if you don’t have your parent’s or guardian’s consent. When you've experienced the trauma of rape getting a prescription on time may become an impossible barrier.

We demand the Ministry of Health of Poland to immediately implement European Commission recommendations and make emergency contraception available over-the counter. Examples from Western Europe show that the accessibility of family planning combined with good education contribute to the reduction in unwanted pregnancies. Making EC available without prescription would also mean less corruption and black market sales.

We refuse to be pawns in political and ideological games. Access to contraception is our right.


Share the petition widely in your networks.

Source: Federation for Women and Family Planning

Jan 05 2015

Since 2007 Women's Rights Center (WRC) in Armenia has been working on implementing a clinical research study on introduction of medical abortion services in Armenia. The aim of this research study is investigation on medical abortion with the use of mifepristone and misoprostol, results and success rate, its acceptability and feasibility for women in Armenia.

It’s important to note that WRC was the first organization in Armenia to introduce medical abortion as an optional method for terminating unwanted pregnancies. All activities of organization on safe abortion are realized with the permission and in cooperation with the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Armenia (Together with Gynuity Health Projects, New York). Only licensed obstetrician-gynecologists working at obstetric-gynecologic institutions of the Republic can do medical or surgical abortions. 

In the frame of implementation process of the first trimester medical abortion we organized various trainings, round table and dissemination meetings with gynecologists from different medical institutions of Armenia. During the meetings and trainings the results of international studies, concerning mifepristone and misoprostol usage for first and second trimester termination of pregnancy, are introduced to doctors, they have an opportunity to share their concerns and get answers to their questions, to be involved in a discussion.

WRC has also elaborated and published various relevant materials on medical abortion, including the Clinical Guideline on Organizing and Providing Health Care on Medical Abortion on first trimester second abortion, the information booklet on “Medical Abortion” and other relevant materials have been disseminated among the doctors-participants (obstetricians - gynecologists) and women throughout the regions.

Currently, our organization coordinates the second trimester safe abortion study with the usage of mifepristone and misoprostol for terminating unwanted pregnancies. We’re also working on elaborating a new Clinical Guideline on second trimester medical abortion. 

Article prepared by Women’s Rights Center

Dec 22 2014

Recently Aljazeera featured a long article about the reality of Poland's restrictive anti-abortion law and the sad reality of reproductive rights which Polish women face. Poland has one of the harshest abortion laws in Europe. It is a crime to terminate a pregnancy in the eastern European country except in three circumstances: cases of foetal abnormality, risk to the health and life of the mother, and rape or incest. Despite these exceptions, in reality access to abortion, where the law permits it, remains extremely limited. According to the official numbers there were 701 abortions in year 2012 (latest data available) what in a country of almost 40 million citizens serves more as an indication of the scale of the problem than as a fact.

Source: Aljazeera

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